Writing is not for the faint-hearted. Writers do the hard work of expelling ignorance, trying to change the way people think while taking in every chance to learn about the lives of others. The business of fiction is people, but in order to write about people, one has to understand them well. T.S. Eliot once said that this process, the course of a writer creating something that mimics life is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality,1 because he must be thoroughly absorbed in what he does in order for it to be effective. A writer never stops writing. Leaving the desk doesn't end the process. A true writer continues to write in his head long after he's left the typewriterhis relationship with the world is one of narrative.2 The test of character involved is immense yet there must be something worth the struggle; there wouldn't be any writers otherwise. Committed writers find satisfaction in what they do. Anne Sexton found confessional poetry meaningful because it showed her who she was. Lee Smith writes because she sees something wonderful about being able to get inside the skin of people unlike you.
Keywords: Tom Grimes, Frank Conroy, Janet Burroway and Elizabeth Stuckey-French, Ismail Muhammud, Personal interview, Stephen Koch. The Modern Library Writer's Workshop
[...] Later he told me that “workshopping allowed [him] to see that some concepts, while they were perfectly clear in [his] mind, did not have enough explanation in [his] writing.”11 Workshop refreshes the way writers look at something because a writer knows his story too well and as a result, often fails to think from an objective point of view. A surprising outcome of workshop is that despite the fact that it allows the writer to understand better what he wants to say, it ultimately teaches objectivity. [...]
[...] The only thing holding a writer back in workshop is fear. Fear of judgment and incompetence. Once it's overcome, you realize how silly it was to fear the people who are now your friends and people you trust to read your most intimate writing. Workshop is really just confrontation of your limitations and flaws,”1 a chance to learn your weaknesses and in admitting them, come to trust yourself, which enables you to trust others Grimes, The Workshop Josip Novakovich, Fiction Writer's Workshop (Cincinnati: F&W Publications, Inc., 1995) Koch, The Modern Library Writer's Workshop Burroway, Writing Fiction Burroway, Writing Fiction 394. [...]
[...] Writing is a test of character and “talent is more common than character.”1 Genius exists in literature, as shown by history, but workshop is for the writers who are ambitious and passionate enough to challenge the historic belief that great writing flows only from the pens of gifted individuals Tom Grimes, ed. The Workshop: Seven Decades of the Iowa Writers' Workshop (New York: Hyperion, 1999) Frank Conroy, ed. The Eleventh Draft: Craft and the Writing Life from the Iowa Writers' Workshop (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 1999) Janet Burroway and Elizabeth Stuckey-French, Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft, 7th ed (Crawfordsville: R.R. [...]
[...] She said to me recently that the beauty of workshop lies in how didn't write perfectly, that wasn't the point—we got to see how you go from one word or one sentence to an entire story.”9 The relationships you forge with fellow writers as well as, in my case, Stegner Fellows: 1 Ismail Muhammud, Personal interview Apr Stephen Koch. The Modern Library Writer's Workshop, a Guide to the Craft of Fiction (New York: Random House, Inc., 2003) Burroway, Writing Fiction xiv Burroway, Writing Fiction xv Koch, The Modern Library Writer's Workshop Burroway, Writing Fiction xii David Roderick, Personal interview Mar David Keplinger, Words Themselves: Benefits of Creative Writing Workshops for Students of English as a Second Language,” Radical Pedagogy Dec
[...] Workshop thus offers “attention in an area where attention is hard to command.”2 The workshop phenomenon is so firmly established that nearly every higher institution in America offers some sort of workshop-based writing program and is so grounded in literary culture that it has given rise to a new verb—to workshop. To many, workshop seems like an entirely new or recent invention, but the Workshop of Iowa dates back to 1896, when the first course in “creative writing” was offered.3 The Iowa Writers' Workshop was the inspiration for the 300-some programs that now exist across the United States.3 The proliferation of workshops shows that such a radical, new form of learning is effective. [...]
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